Vegan 101: How to Get Your Family on Board with Your New Vegan Lifestyle
I'm going to let you in on a a little secret to veganism and any other lifestyle choices you make, whether conventional or not: there is nothing you can do or say to make someone be on board with your lifestyle. Hopefully this is as freeing for you as it was for me when I finally internalized this lesson. As long as you're not hurting someone with your choices, like literally causing harm, not hurting their feelings or their perception of you and your life, the way you live your life is completely and totally up to you.
So, please relieve yourself of the burden of getting someone on board with your veganism. You don't have to take on that responsibility. Reframe the whole experience as you gently and lovingly sharing a change you want to make in your own life and asking for the support of those you love as you make the transition.
Of course, the flip side of this whole idea is that the people you love don't owe it to you to change their lives for your new lifestyle or to even fully support you in your decision. They are entitled to live their lives in the way they see fit, just like you. It's a nice benefit if they get on board somehow, but it isn't a requirement for you or for them. Even in a marriage, it's completely possible for you to be vegan without your spouse being on board. It will likely require that you renegotiate some of the terms of your relationship, but it's not a deal breaker.
Does that make you feel better? I know I feel so much more free knowing that I alone am accountable for my own decisions in my own life. It allows me to listen to my own intuition and do what is right for me. If I am happy with how I am living my life, I am better able to show up for those I love in a major way. It's self-care in the highest form.
If you've decided you want to try out veganism, whether through a 30 Day Vegan Challenge or going cold turkey or even doing Meatless Mondays, here are some ideas I have for how you broach that subject with your family:
- Approach them with the idea when they are receptive to the message. I tend to get gung-ho with any new lifestyle change and spring it on my significant other when he's not ready to hear it. I now try to wait until he's relaxed and receptive to my message, typically after a nice dinner out or in the mornings when he's feeling rested.
- Come with solutions. When I wanted to try out more vegan meals at home, I talked to my partner about it and also had a plan for how to address our shared responsibilities. I am typically the cook in our household, so I offered to take on different responsibilities if he didn't want to eat my vegan food. Luckily, he was open to exploring vegan food with me, but if he hadn't been receptive, I came armed with non-threatening solutions. I had a back-up plan that we would handle our own cooking and I would start cleaning the bathroom if he wasn't on board with eating vegan. Taking into account how your new lifestyle affects their lifestyle is the considerate thing to do.
- Don't be pushy. It is SO HARD when you are newly passionate about veganism to contain yourself. Trust me, I am so, so, so guilty of this. I just want to shove it down everyone's throat. One night my partner's son called me out on how much I was talking about veganism, so I scaled it back. Remember, this is your lifestyle change, not their's. If you want them to be open to it, let them make their own informed decisions. They can't be ready to change until they are ready to change. It's that simple.
- Ask for what you need. Really think about what you need and ask for it directly. Our families can't read our minds. It's okay to directly ask for our needs to be met. I asked my partner to take over cooking meat in our house and he now cooks it. I am okay with buying it for him when I go to the grocery store, so I communicated that and it was all good. Your needs are unique to you. They also might change over time. Check in frequently so your family knows where you're at in the process.
- Ask for grace. We're not perfect. Transitioning to veganism is messy for most people. It's not perfectly linear. The last thing you need is your partner shaming you if you decide to eat meat again for a while or for one meal. Let him or her know that you are likely going to slip up sometimes and ask for them to be gentle or caring with you when you do. Promise to communicate how you're feeling and why you're making a different decision when you do, but gently tell them that you don't need them to be the Vegan Police.
These are a few of the most helpful tips we have for getting your family on board with your veganism. Do you have anything to add? We'd love to hear your tips!
Ready to make the transition to veganism??? Download our ebook, 'The 30 Day Vegan Challenge: An Approachable, Easy-to-follow Recipe Guidebook for New Vegans'. It is chock full of easy vegan recipes, plus lots of tips for transitioning to veganism. It also includes a full meal plan for the 30-day challenge.